Should Autism Awareness week be more than baking cakes ...?
The week commencing 27 March is the designated 'Autism Awareness Week'.
Looking at the NAS articles, it seems to be all about fundraising, about baking cakes, going for a walk or holding a sponsored event. All very worthy, I am sure.
But aren't we missing something really important. The slogan is 'until everyone understands'. And what will everyone understand about autism if we just bake cakes or go for a walk? That there is a condition called 'autism'. That those who are autistic can bake cakes?
'Autism awareness week' should surely be an opportunity we should all use to state our case. Anyone who has been touched by autism, from parents and carers, relations, and those who are autistic themselves - should get involved in awareness where it really counts.
And that is by contacting the newspapers, writing letters to the media, writing to our MPs, lobbying parliament, writing to local councillors, and organising campaigns where the real issues relating to autism are stated. Issues such as lack of available diagnoses for adults, the waiting time for a diagnosis, the real lack of anything having been done under the 'Autism Strategy', the fact that NHS trusts do not offer any help at all to adults who may be on the spectrum. Many MPs are on Twitter and Facebook, we could message and tweet them. Get the broadcasters, local radio especially, interested in our cause. Write an article or letter for the local newspaper on the difficulties we face in everyday life, barriers put up not by us but by the attitude of others. This is surely as important as any amount of fundraising in raising awareness.
Daily I see discussions on this forum about problems autistic people and their carers are having with authority, funds being cut, barrers put in our way. And if we also let a wide audience know of these difficulties some of this may just begin to make others understand. Some seed may fall on stony ground, but if we all did communicate our issues to the media, our lawmakers, our local councillors then maybe, just maybe, we would begin to open a few doors in the barriers that are put in our way.
But how many of us will do this?